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Thousands of UBC staff call for cancellation of anti-SOGI event

Last Updated Jun 20, 2019 at 7:25 pm PDT

People walk past large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., on November 22, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Summary

The largest employee group at UBC says by hosting the event the university is providing a platform for hate speech

The event features Jenn Smith, a critic of SOGI 123 whose speaking engagements have been protested, cancelled

Douglas College and Trinity Western University have recently cancelled speeches by Smith

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An association representing 5,000 staff members at UBC is calling on the university’s president to cancel a controversial speech scheduled for this weekend.

The Association of Administrative and Professional Staff wrote in a letter that the event will provide a “platform for bigoted, anti-transgender hate speech.”

The event features Jenn Smith who is an outspoken critic of SOGI 123, a teaching resource that provides guidance to teachers on how to speak to students about sexual orientation and gender identity in an inclusive, respectful and age-appropriate way.

The University has defended it’s decision citing a commitment to free speech.

RELATED: UBC will host controversial anti-SOGI event, citing free speech

The association says that free speech has limits and that Smith propagates hate speech.

“AAPS wholeheartedly rejects that argument and is frankly disappointed that the University would characterize the spreading of hate speech against transgender individuals as a matter of free speech,” the letter says.

Joey Hanson, the executive director of the association, says the letter was drafted as a way to communicate what he heard from employees to the administration.

“Members had expressed concern that hosting the talk — given the content — created an unsafe work environment, created feelings of distress for them,” he says.

Hanson added that holding the event on campus undermines the university’s commitment to safety and inclusivity for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff.

“It sends a terrible message, frankly,” he says.

Trinity Western University and Douglas College have recently cancelled speeches by Smith.

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